BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – The world must take a concerted approach towards possible sanctions against Iran over its refusal to abandon sensitive parts of its nuclear programme, a senior U.S. official said on Friday. “It’s particularly important for sanctions to have a multilateral base,” U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt told reporters in Brussels of discussions in world capitals about a possible new wave of sanctions against Tehran. “The multilateral approach is going to guide us as we go forward,” he said, adding that this approach should also involve banks and companies. The U.N. Security Council has passed two sanctions resolutions against Iran for failing to halt uranium enrichment.
Big powers agreed to delay further U.N. sanctions until November to see whether Iran’s agreement with U.N. nuclear inspectors to try to clear up questions about its atomic programme yields results and to await a report by Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
Kimmitt said reducing export credits should be discussed in the framework of a possible third U.N. resolution next month, with the objective, he said, to “deny Iran the capability of abusing the world’s financial system in support of its proliferation objectives.” “We are very pleased, therefore, to see the decisions, particularly on the part of Germany, France, Britain and Italy and others to reduce export credits that could be used to help advance the Iranian nuclear programme,” he said. EU foreign ministers will warn Iran on Monday that it faces tougher sanctions unless it halts nuclear activities the West suspects are aimed at making atomic bombs.
The EU would “consider what additional measures it might take in order to support the U.N. process and the shared objectives of the international community”, a draft ministerial statement seen by Reuters said. However, the draft statement agreed by EU ambassadors avoids responding directly to a French proposal for EU states to consider their own sanctions without waiting for the U.N. to act again. The proposal has divided EU members. “Europe, quite understandably given Iran’s reluctance to engage in meaningful diplomatic discussion, believes there needs to be more pressure on Iran, and we look forward to having a discussion on how within that multilateral context,” Kimmitt said.
Major powers — the United States, the EU, Russia and China — have offered Tehran a package of economic, civil nuclear and security incentives if it suspends its most sensitive atomic work.
The EU will say on Monday that the package is still on the table. “Iran still has the option to re-enter negotiations on that basis,” the draft EU statement says, reaffirming EU support for a “negotiated long-term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue”. “We are prepared to be at the table if the Iranians do what the Europeans have asked, that is to suspend their enrichment programme,” Kimmitt said.
Solana may meet Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator in the next week or so to discuss Tehran’s atomic programme, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.